WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Nancy Boyda (Kansas Second District), along with other members of Congress, spoke this morning on the Cannon Terrace in support of legislation to protect community pharmacies.
Congresswoman Boyda introduced the Saving Our Community Pharmacies Act in August, 2007. This bill is meant to prevent a drastic cut in pharmacy reimbursement rates by Medicaid. Many fear these cuts would drive smaller, community pharmacies out of business. "These community pharmacies," said Boyda, "are the nearest healthcare providers in many rural areas." Boyda, along with other supporters of the bill, want to keep these pharmacies open so they can continue to provide a much-needed service.
Without action, Medicaid will change how it calculates reimbursements to pharmacies for generic prescription drugs. Rep. Boyda described the change: "The new formula is a convoluted calculation based off the Average Manufacturer's Price (AMP), but the effect is plain: shuttered pharmacies."
The nonpartisan General Accounting Office (GAO) studied AMP-based reimbursement and found that, on average, pharmacies would receive 36% less in reimbursement than they pay to acquire prescription drugs. According to Rep. Boyda, "That's like forcing a bank to sell dollar bills for 64 cents. No business can survive if they're reimbursed less than their cost."
Boyda's bill calls for a national median price to be calculated for each drug dispensed; and all pharmacies would then be reimbursed at 150 percent of this cost for each drug they dispense to Medicaid beneficiaries.
Under the Saving Our Community Pharmacies Act of 2007 (H.R. 3140), states would be required to increase their utilization of generic drugs. The savings from using cheaper generics would offset the higher reimbursements to pharmacies.
Said Rep. Boyda, "We've been working to raise awareness and spread the message about the peril that community pharmacies face. The hundreds of co-sponsors on these bills are proof that the message has been heard. Now we need action. Today we call upon Congressional leadership to begin moving these bills and pass relief for community pharmacies before this Congress is out."
Boyda's work to save our community pharmacies is commendable. Let's all hope she's successful.